Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Former Cathedral) and Former Convent of Mount Carmel

Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Former Cathedral) and Former Convent of Mount Carmel

Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Religious Architecture

The origin of the church was the chapel of Our Lady of Ó, built by the Benedictines on the beach close to the Morro do Castelo, the original heart of the city. After their arrival in the city in 1590, the Carmelites occupied the chapel and, a few years later, in 1619, they began building their convent. The existing rectangular building is merely a part of the original complex. The ground floor and the first floor, with doors and windows with straight lintels, date from the 17th century. The second sobrado dates from the 18th century, before 1760. It is probably from the same period as the house of Teles de Meneses, since both feature large balcony windows in the form of a depressed arch with decoration above the lintel. The large semi-circular arch afforded access to the convent’s inner courtyard. With the arrival of the Portuguese court in 1808, the building was requisitioned to provide accommodation for the queen Dona Maria I and her entourage. A passageway was built at the time to connect it to the palace. The construction of the convent church started in 1761, after the collapse of the old chapel. When the prince regent arrived in 1808 and requested that it serve as a royal chapel, the interior decoration had not been entirely finished. It is a church consisting of a single rectangular nave, with arcades, tribunes and a very deep chancel. The arcades were converted into the existing side chapels during the 19th century. The predominant decoration of the church is a magnificent example of Rio de Janeiro rococo. The decoration of the crossing, nave and chancel is the work of the wood carver Inacio Ferreira Pinto in the 18th century. The side chapels of the nave were decorated in the 19th century by the German Thomas Driendl with the same rococo motifs as the nave, except for the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which was decorated in the neoclassical style. The paintings of the apostles between the tribunes of the nave and the chancel are the work of José Leandro de Carvalho. In 1997, work was carried out to the inside of the church with the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The church was considerably modified on the outside. It originally featured a rustic tower with a porch and was connected to the convent.

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